When it comes to milk, the differences between organic and conventionally produced milk may not be so straightforward, according to new research from New Zealand which suggests there may more evidence might be needed to justify the higher prices consumers pay for at the store.

According to the research, published in the Journal of Dairy Science, investigators concluded that previous studies examining whether differences between the products exist have been ambiguous, primarily because of the complexity of the research and variables that influence milk’s composition.

“When comparing organic and conventional milk composition (especially milk fatty acids), previous studies have generally compared organic dairying with milk produced from grass-fed cows to conventional dairying with milk produced from concentrate-fed cows. The differences in milk composition observed are actually due to the different diets of the cows (i.e. pasture versus concentrate feeding) rather than organic versus conventional farming systems," said Don Otter, lead researcher, senior scientist, food & bio-based products, AgResearch Grasslands Research Centre (New Zealand).

Researchers said the term “organic” itself is ambiguous when it comes to dairy products since this term is set by regulations that differ by country.

Overall, the team determined in terms of milk’s nutrients, “there is nothing distinct about organic milk that makes it unique from conventionally produced milk once the different factors that influence milk production are compared or adjusted for.”

 The full review can be found here.